My life

When everything’s kaplooey

So, I’ve got a cold. And it sucks. Can’t stop coughing and sneezing and my head feels like the Dwarves have set up some smithies in there. Good news is I don’t have a crippling fever so I can still go about my usual business. Of procrastinating. Naturally.

My birthday was absolutely awesome. Firstly I got to spend it with the most awesome of peoples. (Skype counts as well!) And I got so many cuddly, fuzzy and cosy presents you wouldn’t believe it. Including a unicorn dressing gown and a cookbook by my favourite Masterchef winner, Luca. I have to admit I’ve not finished going through it yet, but that’s because I’m actually reading everything he’s written. It’s just so real and interesting. Plus I need to stop to drool at every recipe. Can’t wait to make all the everything from it!

I’m pretty sure that’s all I’ve got the energy for now.

Toodle pip!

G.

Stories

5 Years Ago

Lily kept tossing and turning in her sleep, grumbling something not quite human. Her voice grew louder and louder until she was screaming her head off, waking herself up. Ollie burst through the door, his little bare feet pattering across the cold wooden floor. He looked so frightened, looking up at his big sister, whom he’d just thought to be in mortal danger, at the very least! ‘Was it the monsters again?’ he whispered, as if scared they’d be overheard. Lily was covered in cold sweat and she felt feverish, yet when she glanced at her younger brother, her face softened and she whispered back ‘Yes Ollie, it was the monsters again. I’m sorry I woke you.’ She brushed the hair back from her brother’s eyes and pulled him close for a hug. Ollie hugged her back and said ‘Don’t worry Lil, I’ll protect you from them. Let’s go back to sleep,’ he added, letting a big yawn escape his mouth. ‘Yeah, you can stay with me tonight if you’d like,’ she said, and then added almost inaudibly ‘And here’s hoping for a dreamless sleep.’

When they finally awoke, the sun was high up in the sky and they could hear their mum clattering with a frying pan downstairs, undoubtedly preparing a late breakfast. Without saying a word they got out of bed and Ollie went to his room to change out of his sleep clothes and Lily did the same in hers. She sat down on her bed, plucking at a loose thread dangling from the sleeve of her moose pyjamas. Why did she keep having the same dream? Well, with the same characters at the very least.

It always started with her looking down on a massive battle where on one side were people – or wizards? – throwing balls of fire or lightning or what ever else their imagination could conjure up to the opposing side of, well, dragons, she supposed. They were quite big and scaly and were most definitely breathing fire. She had witnessed them scorching large areas of grass and ground – and people – in front of them, to ashes. There was so much death and destruction, it pained her to even think about it. She had to stop recollecting her dreams to remind herself that’s all it was – dreams. None of this was real. But why did it feel so realistic though?

The next part was almost always different. At times she swooped down, her wings – when had she grown wings? – spread wide, to let her glide without much effort. When she was close enough to the mayhem before her, she spoke. It didn’t sound like her, nor was it any language she recognised, but all action ceased immediately, all faces turning towards her.

At other times she dove down – again those blasted wings! – and started throwing balls of fire and ice upon both sides of the battle. Or sometimes just the dragons.

On some occasions one side lost or won, whether she participated in any way or not. Sometimes she was captured and tortured. Those were the dreams most often waking her up. And that’s what she’d seen again last night. But she hadn’t just seen it, she’d felt it. She’d felt the red hot iron touching her skin, making her dream self black out, but the screaming in her head continued. That’s when she realised it was her making the ear splitting noise, and woke up, panting as if she’d just ran for miles.

What did this all mean? Should she research dream omens or something? But she still couldn’t shake the feeling they weren’t really normal dreams. They just felt too real.

‘Okay, now you’re being an idiot,’ she told herself aloud, trying to sound as convincing as she could, for it’s quite hard to persuade someone, if deep down you know you don’t believe it.

Nevertheless, she got up from her bed and changed into comfortable jogging pants and a t-shirt and then went to the bathroom to brush her teeth where Ollie was just finishing doing his. He waited for her and then they went downstairs together. Half way down they could smell pancakes and hastened their pace, excited to see what had gotten their mum in a pancake mood, since it happened so rarely nowadays.

‘Morning kids! Slept well?’ she asked, her voice sounding light and happy, even if there were dark shadows under her eyes betraying how tired she really was. The kids sat down and each grabbed a plate with food and started munching. ‘Lily had a bad dream again,’ Ollie said, raspberry jam dripping from his fingers. Lily shot a warning look at her little brother and said ‘Uhmm, yeah, I did. But it was no big deal. What about you? We’ve not had pancakes in ages!’ Her mum’s face split into a big smile as she exclaimed ‘I got a promotion! I don’t have to work the night shifts any more! Magda, you know Magda, right? Well anyway, she retired so they were finally pumping one of us up to replace her and they said they’d actually noticed all the hard work I’d been doing and,’ her voice cracked and she burst into tears ‘Oh, kids, I’m so happy!’ She hugged them both and they were all whooping and cheering.

As they sat beside the fire, having finally stopped when it got dark, that’s what Lily was thinking about. How it all had started five years ago. How she’d been dragged into this mess, into this lunatic story. The dreams. She scoffed. She’d been right. They weren’t just dreams at all. They were the futures. Well, one of them would be in any case. Which one would actually come true, even Bel couldn’t say. Any change in even the smallest of details could alter it.

No, she really didn’t have the heroic nerve Bel seemed to hope for. Some of the futures she’d seen had been downright horrific. The things she’d seen, the things she’d herself done. She couldn’t bring herself to even consider it possible she could bring death and chaos like that or be tortured until she died – if lucky.

She sat staring at the fire for a while, thinking it all over. Becoming more convinced that all she and Ollie needed to do was to get off this strange planet. To go back home to their mum. Oh how she missed her right now. And the tears came again.

G.

Stories

Tectonic Llamas

‘What… What are these things?’ Ollie whispered, his voice shaking, as all his sister could do was gape at these creatures. And what a sight they were, too. Truly worth taking a few seconds out of your life just to be astounded by the wonders of this strange world.

Massive, no, absolutely monumental beasts with thick green moss like fur that looked to be covering what were great slabs of rock, making up some sort of an armour – overlapping in most places, yet leaving gaps in others. And the way they moved, it was like watching Time itself in slow motion. Their faces didn’t look too menacing though, Ollie noticed. And as the animals were grazing along, nibbling on the plentiful lush plants growing around here, rather than charging onward to attack them, he thought they ought to be rather safe.

Hearing a rustling of leaves behind them he turned around in alarm, but saw it was only Bel who didn’t seem to be surprised in the slightest by the gigantic beasts, who were now all slowly turning to face the same direction for reasons unknown to Ollie. ‘Oh, so you’ve seen the tectonic llamas,’ she said and then added with a sigh ‘Magnificent, aren’t they?’

‘Tectonic llamas? So the leaves we had for dinner weren’t poisonous and I’m not seeing things right now? That’s a relief I guess. What exactly are these llama things though? You know, if you care to share any more, or do you just expect us to know everything like you do?’ Ollie said, words coming out rather faster than usual, with a hint of fear showing through is sarcasm.

‘Well, they’re quite hard to explain,’ Bel said and seemed to drift off in thought for a bit, before carefully choosing how to phrase what she wanted to say ‘To be honest, we’re not actually sure what they are, we just know why they are. For most of the time anyway. Take a closer look at them. As in, close your mouth and actually use your wits rather than just gawp like you’ve never seen creatures resembling floating islands before,’ she paused, looking at the llamas ‘Erm, furry islands? Regardless, look at their sides and backs. Do you see anything?’

Ollie looked, and his sister, who had still failed to say anything, looked as well. ‘I don’t see anything?’ he said, sounding bewildered and slightly disappointed. ‘Ah, not to worry,’ chirped Bel. ‘What about you, Lily?’ she asked, but looking like she already knew the answer. ‘I see it,’ Lily said in a quiet voice. ‘I knew you would! See, I told you. You’ve got more magic than I’ve seen in anyone in a thousand years! And oh boy do I wish I was exaggerating. Being on the lookout for you for a millennium has been exhausting!’

‘Bel, you’ve still not explained,’ Ollie complained, trying to sound curious rather than confused, for he still didn’t know what he was supposed to have seen. ‘Oh, yes. I’m sorry, one can be entrusted with the most important of tasks for several aeons and still have the attention span of a flutterpuff. Anyway, these tectonic llamas represent our solar system,’ she said simply, as if hoping this would explain everything. Seeing the confused looks on her companions faces though, she rolled her eyes and continued ‘I know you don’t have quite as much magic as Lily does and that’s why she can see it. As you know, my magic depleted a very long time ago so I’m just digging around in my memories now but what a sight they were – where you can see their armour plates not quite touching, there’s magic shimmering through, flowing as an eternal underground river, golden and diamond flecked. And where they’re overlapping or forming ridges, which are actual coast lines and mountain ranges by the way, there you can see it bursting out as if a display of fire wonders. Ever so beautiful and something you’ll never be able to forget,’ Bel drifted off as if looking at it all in her mind’s eye.

‘In any case, like I said, we don’t know what they actually are. Whether they’re alive and breathing or whether it’s all just a sort of a game they’re playing – pretending to be peaceful furries so they wouldn’t be considered a threat and hunted down. But for why they are, there’s a rather simple explanation. Like I already said, they represent our solar system. So it’d be a really safe guess – one that no-one has dared to question or test so far – that keeping them here, hidden and away from any dangers, is how our planets are protected from the Athlore folk,’ her face turned grim as she said it, remembering stories from the refugees of other planets. The remnants of them at least, for not many escape Ahtlore warriors once they’ve targeted your home.

Lily turned to face Bel, tears falling from her eyes, but her voice steady when she spoke ‘You tell me all this hoping I’ll go along with your mad plan, aren’t you? Trying to soften me up and hoping I’ll have some stupid heroic nerve somewhere you can touch by showing me what you’re all fighting for and hoping that I’d take over?’ her voice had risen a bit when she said it ‘Well that’s not going to work. I know how this is meant to go – you find the destined one and she’ll pick up a sword and go chop the dragon into bits and everyone will live happily ever after. Well no. I’m saying no. I’m not the one you’re looking for. I don’t know what you see in me, but it’s not magic. And definitely not anything to make me believe I could make a difference. Not going to happen!’ she shouted, turned around and walked away, wiping tears from her face.

Ollie looked at Lily’s retreating back, shocked to see her sister fall to pieces like this, then shot an apologetic glance towards Bel and trotted after Lily.

Bel looked at them both going, and incredibly there was a small smile playing on her lips. She spread her wings and flew off in the opposite direction.

*Right, so. Tectonic llamas, eh? English is really missing out there. I was so surprised to discover that what we in Estonia call ‘tektoonilised laamad’ (literal translation tectonic llamas), are called ‘tectonic plates’ in English. I mean. What a let down.

Like I said – everything’s a story.

G.

Food, Recipes

Spicy Coconut Soup

Yesterday I made soup. And I can say without a doubt it’s one of the nicest soups I’ve had. Ever. In addition to tasting absolutely lovely, it’s also really easy to make. And I’m talking like, the only thing you’ll need to put any effort into is chopping up the mushrooms. The rest is just tossing things in the pot and letting it bubble away. I’ve made this a few times now and it’s never failed me.

Now, I wasn’t actually planning on sharing the recipe and all the boring technicalities (which there isn’t a lot of to tell you the truth), not least because I don’t measure anything I put in there and adjust the recipe according to what I’ve got at home. But I just got really excited thinking about how I get to have this soup in a bit so here’s the idea of it anyway:

What you’ll need:

  • Oil – a squirt. Around 1 tbsp (I just use olive oil, because that’s what I’ve got in my cupboard)
  • Red curry paste – you have to know yourself and your audience here. I usually add about 2-3 tbsps – depending on the brand i’m working with – which is a lot if you don’t like your food spicy! So approach with caution (now, I don’t want to name any brands, but this time I didn’t have my usual brand’s curry paste and had to use another one and it made a massive difference)
  • Ginger – I wouldn’t go nuts with it, but I’d say a teaspoon or 2 would be a safeish amount (I use powdered, but you can of course use fresh)
  • Lemon – another squirt of around 1tbsp (again, mine comes from one of those little yellow lemon-shaped concentrate bottles, but you can use lemongrass, real lemon, what ever tastes lemony)
  • Chicken stock – about 1l of it will do
  • Fish sauce – about 2tbsp
  • Brown sugar – 2tbsp (I use dark brown muscovado sugar)
  • Coconut milk – 2 cans
  • Mushrooms – as many as you’d like, in the last lot I used 400g of plain white ones
  • I usually also add 2 chopped up chicken fillets, but I didn’t have any this time
  • And salt (and butter)

Cooking it is really straightforward – you take a big pot, put the heat on medium and squirt the oil in. Then add the curry paste, ginger and lemon. And if you’re me you’re only just remembering about the chicken stock, so on goes the kettle and by the time it’s boiling, add it to the pot. Now add fish sauce and sugar and stir it all up. By now you’ll have an inkling of what your soup will be like, so if you’d like it a bit spicier, I’m sure you can make it so. Let it bubble for about 15 minutes which is just enough time to slice up your mushrooms and give them a good fry in butter in another pan. And if you’re also adding chicken or anything else, now’s the time to prepare it. After the 15ish minutes, add coconut milk and mushrooms (and salt). This’ll mellow it down a lot. Let it come to boil again, simmer for a few minutes and voila! All you’ve left to do is marvel at what you’ve accomplished in no time and with absolutely minimal effort.

The end result for me is coconutty broth with warm heat just tickling your throat, and the mushrooms and/or chicken adding a bit of texture and bite. And yes, half way through writing down the ingredients I went and got myself a bowl of it which reassured me I should most definitely share this with you guys!

G.

 

 

Books, Challenges, Food, My life

Some things I’d like to do

So. It’s 2016. So far it looks no different than 2015. Except for the 6 instead of 5, of course. And even though I did say that a change in the year number shouldn’t make any difference to what we do and like, I have some things I’d like to do differently. And I wouldn’t even say they’re necessarily ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. It’s more like – I felt the need for change in some things and it just happened to occur around this time of year.

Let’s get the most boring things out of the way first. I’m going to worry less. There are some little exercises that I’ve found help with that particular issue of mine. Just so you know, it’s something I’ve developed for myself and I’m sure there’s a dozen books and a hundred websites on how to perfect what I’m doing and how to ‘do it right’, but what I do works for me so I’ll continue with it.

It’s rather simple actually – I assume the lotus position (because why not? May as well be comfortable and not worry about my posture whilst working on my mind. I could probably do it just as well slouching on a couch, but it’s sort of liberating taking deep breaths and just being in my happy place. In fact, sometimes I also do it when walking. But you have to be comfortable just floating away then, best not do it on busy or dodgy streets.) and then I picture myself in Rivendell with all the waterfalls and elves and the whole palooza. And then I confront my worries. It’s sometimes a bit difficult because it’s important to get to the root cause of things to really resolve the matter. And it can be a bit scary. Even though I’m not big with the lies (any more), it’s hard to admit some things, even to yourself. However nothing bad can happen to me in Rivendell so I’m obviously safe to do so there. Once I’ve ever so bravely pinned down what’s bothering me, it’s the simple question of – is there anything I can do about it? With a simple yes/no answer. And then either do it or take a big stamp with ‘NO’ on it and just stamp it away. At times it’s not quite as simple as that and I just can’t help it, but I do try.

Additionally I’ve decided to stop just pinning things on Pinterest and actually start doing them! Whether it’s recipes or crafts or clothes, I absolutely love doing all of it so there’s no reason not to. Pinterest is such a great place for inspiration and now it shall also be my source for motivation. Just go and do it!

And, of course, writing. It’s one thing I’ve always loved doing, as long as I can remember. This blog is the start of it and I guess we’ll see where I go from here. Need to get in the habit of writing again first.

Finally, challenges. I challenge myself, and everyone else who wants to take part in this, to bake 12 different types of cupcakes/muffins and I also challenge myself to read 30 books this year.

P.S As for last year’s cookie challenge – 19 minutes to midnight I remembered I’m still on 19/20 cookies so I invented a recipe on the go and got them ready with 3 minutes to go.

Here’s to great ideas and actually going through with them!

G.